The School in Rose Valley is so beautiful in the fall. The many trees begin to change color and eventually drop their leaves for students to try to catch and gather into large piles for jumping. We call the season “fall” because it seems like the leaves, encouraged by a brisk wind blowing, seem to fall off of the trees. What is actually happening is more interesting.

According to the renowned botanist Peter Raven, when the weather changes, a hormone is triggered in leaf falling trees that sends a chemical message to each leaf letting them know it is time to part. Once the message is received, little cells appear in the part where the leaf meets the stem that essentially making a cut. The cells then form a thin bumpy line along the leaf’s edge that slowly pushes the leaf away from the stem, and then the wind finishes the job (npr.com).

It’s interesting to think of the fall in such a way that the trees seem more empowered. They are taking an active role in their own growth. In some ways. the trees on our campus are a little like the students in our Primary Circle. As they move through developmental stages, they cast off the old and prepare for the new. They show more independence from parents and family and are starting to think about the future. These lead to a stronger understanding of their place in the world. Their mental acuity progresses very rapidly at this age. They learn better ways to describe experiences and talk about thoughts and feelings and have less focus on one’s self and more concern for others.

As these changes begin to occur in our first-grader or second-grader, it’s easy to mourn the loss of their preschool and kindergarten lives but as parents, I think we can embrace these changes and get excited about what is to come and help to ensure a smooth transition through the seasons. Some ways to do this are:

  • Ask your child to help with household tasks, such as setting the table so that he develops a sense of responsibility.
  • Discuss school, friends, and things she looks forward to in the future with your child.
  • Teach your child about respecting others and encourage him to help people in need.
  • Help your child learn to delay gratification by finishing a task before going out to play or by letting others go first or. Encourage him to think about possible consequences before acting.
  • Support your child in taking on new challenges. Encourage her to solve problems, such as a disagreement with another child, on her own.

The philosopher Lao Tzu Life wrote that “life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” The thing about change is that it is inevitable. Despite this, we often still worry about change and in trying to minimize transitions, may be missing out on some benefits. Healthy, well-supported transitions can be a major driver of growth and development, can teach you to be flexible and adaptive, reveal your strengths, and could make you more compassionate.

We are lucky to live in an area of the country in which each season there is obvious, visible, and wondrous change. I encourage you to embrace these changes with me and if you are free on November 9th, stop by during Putter Day to rake some of these leaves — they’re everywhere!

Rod Stanton, Head of School

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